Medical Malpractice Never Events Explained

A “never event” is a term that applies to something that occurs in a healthcare setting that would never happen if proper care were taken to ensure patient safety. Never events are critical in proving medical malpractice and therefore have become the focus of attention in many of these cases.

The underlying idea behind never events is that, with proper planning and preparation, healthcare workers would never commit certain acts or omissions. When patients are treated with an appropriate standard of care, medical malpractice should not be possible. However, when healthcare workers are careless or negligent and do not heed the accepted standard of care, accidents can occur which will greatly impact the lives of patients and their families. Victims of medical malpractice should, therefore, be entitled to compensation for their injuries.

Additionally, never events are of concern to the general population. Knowing that doctors, nurses and healthcare providers are held to a high standard ensures that everyone is protected when seeking medical treatment.

Examples of Never Events

The National Quality Forum or NQF was created in 1999 as a non-profit organization for studying medical errors and making recommendations about how to prevent them. Thus far, the group has identified 28 Serious Reportable Events, otherwise known as never events, that fall into six categories including surgical, product or device, patient protection, care management, environmental and criminal events. The group also established a list of 30 Safe Practices to guide healthcare workers in providing quality care and avoiding never events.

Statistics for Never Events

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information or NCBI, between 1990 and 2010 more than $1.3 billion was paid in malpractice claims. Of the cases examined, 6.6 percent of patients died as a result of never events, while 32.9 percent of the patients suffered permanent injury and 59.2 percent suffered temporary injury. Even more frightening, more than 12 percent of the physicians who were named in the claims experienced a subsequent lawsuit for malpractice.

A study by Johns Hopkins revealed that a sponge or other implement is left inside a patient during surgery 39 times per week on average; incorrect surgeries are performed 20 times per week; and a procedure is executed on the wrong area of the body at least 20 times per week.

Impact on Patients and Families

Patients and their families can suffer tremendously from never events. When a mistake is made in delivering healthcare, the consequences can be severe and life-changing. In many cases, the injuries caused by medical malpractice are irreversible.

Patients may suffer physical and emotional pain, require further medical treatment to correct the problem, or even lose the ability to walk, talk or engage in everyday activities. Cognitive function may be impaired and the victim may lose his or her job due to inability to perform after a medical malpractice event. Family members may suffer because they now have to take care of the injured victim on a full-time basis. They can also suffer emotional pain due to the issues surrounding malpractice.

A medical malpractice attorney who focuses on never events may be able to help. Under the law, victims of malpractice, as well as their families in some cases, have the right to pursue compensation for the damages caused by never events. If you or a family member believe you have suffered due to a never event, a misdiagnosis, birth injury, nursing home abuse, or another form of medical negligence, our Orlando medical malpractice attorneys may be able to help. Fill out our case evaluation form for a free assessment of your case or give us a call at 800.360.7015.